Trans fats: a major culprit in the development of cardiovascular disease
The consumption of unhealthy trans fats is remarkably prevalent in the United States yet the adverse health effects of these fats are far more dangerous on average than those of food contaminants or pesticide residues MedPage Today. Trans fats are found in deep-fried foods, bakery products, packaged snack food, margarines, and crackers, and consumption of these foods significantly raise levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol , reduce HDL (good) cholesterol, and increase triglyceride levels.
As of January 2006, the FDA has mandated specifications for trans-fat content on food labels. However, in certain foods, these labels can be misleading. For example, producers of foods that contain less than 500 mg of fatty acids per serving are allowed to list the content as zero on the packaging. But in multiple servings, consumers might unwittingly consume substantial amounts of the trans fats. Another problem is that food labels are rarely seen in restaurants, bakeries, and other retail food outlets.
In a recently published review article about the nationwide adverse cardiovascular effects of trans fats, the researchers point out that trans-fat intake in the United States could be significantly reduced if food manufacturers and restaurants utilized alternatives to partially hydrogenated oils. The food industry, however, has been resistant to this change because partially hydrogenated vegetable oils have a long shelf life, maintain stability during deep-frying, and provide a theoretical enhancement to palatability in baked goods and sweets.
To date, Denmark, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands have instituted national measures which have resulted in substantial reductions in trans-fat use. For example, in 2004, Denmark mandated that all oils and fats used in locally made or imported products must contain less than 2% industrially produced trans fatty acids. By contrast, the same foods in the U.S. contain 5g to 10 g of trans fatty acids.
New England Journal of Medicine